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Tahoe City considers assessment district

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

One role of the Tahoe City Downtown Association in serving the business community is to evaluate programs and projects most important to the business and property owners in the downtown area.

As part of the assessment process, the association has hired Lani Lott, president of L.L. Consulting, to conduct a survey and series of interviews to determine where the business association should focus its efforts.

“The goal is to get their opinion about what has happened in this area and what they want to happen in this area,” said Tahoe City Downtown Association director Kelly Atchley.

Another association goal is to evaluate whether there is support for an assessment district and, if so, how to go forward in establishing one, Atchley said. A business improvement district is one way to finance such local services as trash and snow removal, sidewalk maintenance and marketing and special event promotions.

“It gives a unified voice,” Atchley said.

Two types of business improvement districts include an assessment on property owners or an assessment on business owners.

About five years ago a property-based business improvement district failed to form in Tahoe City, said board President Dave Wilderotter of the Tahoe City Downtown Association and owner of Tahoe Dave’s. Because many of the property owners live outside of the area, they couldn’t pinpoint the needs of the business community, he said.

Forming another improvement district is just one possibility, Atchley said. Reviewing survey responses will help the downtown association determine business and property owner priorities.

“The survey isn’t about a business improvement district, it’s about what we want to do as a collective group. Do we [as an association] want to exist? Are we worth having?” said Wilderotter. “It’s about the lake being blue and our streets being clean, and smiling that we live here.”

The downtown association is funded by membership fees and by other agencies including the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Placer County’s Redevelopment Agency.

Money from the redevelopment agency was given with the hope that the business association would become a financial partner, Wilderotter said. The surveys will help take the business community’s temperature and guide the downtown association’s plans to address the expressed needs and desires.

“[The survey and the forum] is the organization’s opportunity for people to have a say in what goes on,” Atchley said. “We’re trying to prioritize what the business community thinks the needs are for the future of Tahoe City.”

But some Tahoe City business owners are still too sour about past assessments to even consider one for the future.

“[The survey questions] don’t pertain to any of our issues,” said Michael Babcock, a property and business owner on Mackinaw Road in the west end of Tahoe City. “The whole thing is about the core center of town.”

Babcock said that survey questions about sidewalk maintenance, lighting and downtown enhancement, while important to some businesses, have no bearing on his operations or others near the Tahoe City wye.

He said he is frustrated that he is still paying for an assessment on sidewalks that he never reaped the benefits of.

“One thing we don’t need is another government agency or an assessment district,” Babcock said. “What we do need is some people who have some real passion about things and get things done. What we need is someone who thinks of the town as a whole.”


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